WHEN neighbours Carole Hewitt and Isabel Greenwood moved to the Marbella hills, above La Canada shopping centre, 13 years ago there was nothing but peace and quiet.
Their villas looked upon protected woodlands above and sea views below. It was idyllic, until one of the properties transformed into a restaurant, the Nueva Kaskada, and ruined their tranquility.
Now the British pair are in a constant battle with the German owner, Ewald Fichthaler and the town hall, and it is taking over their lives with claims of noise, parking issues and even abuse from diners and staff.
Making over a dozen complaints about noise this year alone, they are furious that the town hall and police are doing nothing to clamp down on the restaurant.
However, the twist in the story is that Fichthaler, a former chef for the British royal family who trained with Anton Mosimann, believes he is also a victim.
Already fined by the town hall for noise infraction, he has been forced to put in new sound barriers and keep the music level below two decibels.
“We have limiters on the premises, which cuts music when the music gets too loud,” he explained. “And, of course, we finish the music at midnight; we have to pay them more after 12!”
He also claims to have gone out of his way to appease the neighbours since taking over the lease two years ago.
But, last night, he admitted that he had pretty much given up and confirmed that he had recently successfully sued them for harassment.
After the trial earlier this year the two women were found guilty of harassment, and are expecting their fines of €1000- €1500.
“It is terrible. I can’t walk away from my car without them being there,” he said. “I don’t want any more problems and I have told my staff not to go near them.
“They will not be happy until I have been forced to close.”
The battle with Fichthaler – who counts Shirley Bassey and other celebrities as friends – began when the restaurant was given a ‘temporary’ license to play music from the town hall soon after it opened.
Renewed each year, the license states that the restaurant is allowed music from 1pm until midnight, seven days a week, and live music twice a week. But Fichthaler insists he doesn’t take advantage of the license and that the restaurant only has live shows twice a week, unless there is an event such as a wedding.
The neighbours however, cannot understand how the license gets renewed when there are so many complaints against the restaurant.
Hewitt, from North Wales, has put through no less than 10 denuncias against the restaurant this year and last week alone called the police three times as music played past midnight.
“How can the town hall call it temporary when they give a license for eight and half months a year, with automatic renewal, playing music 10 hours plus a day?”
She claims to have had various meetings with councillors over the matter and has submitted video proof to the town hall.
Most annoying of all, she claims, they have only sent noise inspectors out during the day and not during the night, when police have ‘frequently’ been called.
Oddly though, when the Olive Press contacted Marbella town hall, it claimed not to have seen the video and a spokesman insisted they had been ‘more than generous’ in dealing with complaints.
It added that it had already fined the owner and insisted he put in better sound-proofing.
But the neighbours insist the case boils down to one thing: money. “These problems are serious,” said Hewitt. “We live in a Type II area, which means that it is sensitive to a high level of noise and the town hall should be more concerned.
“There is no doubt the town hall is benefiting from allowing this restaurant to remain open. We hope people understand our plight.”